North Reading resident Karl Berg was given the Officer of the Year award for 2012. Berg had a presence at the North Reading Police Department for 36 years.
A 41-year North Reading resident, Berg decided to join the force in 1976 as an auxiliary officer. He volunteered for a couple of years before he became a constable. In addition to his role at the police department, he worked at GE as a milling machine operator for 37 years.
"I was working as many hours with the police as I was for GE," he said.
As a constable in town, he worked details and then started working regular shifts when other officers were unavailable.
"I just always wanted to see what it was going to be like to be a police officer,” he explained.
Although he has seen "a lot of horrific things" including severe accidents and deaths, Berg really enjoyed his time with the department, he said.
"You see a lot of things that you’d like to erase from your memory, but you learn to live with it," he explained. "No one realizes what you go through, unless you’ve been out there."
"The best feeling is when you know you've help someone out, either medically or otherwise," he said.
Berg also served as an animal control officer for a few years, along with his son Jerry. He particularly enjoyed reuniting someone with their lost dog. To them, it's like losing a child, he said. The pet really becomes part of the family, so it brings a person great relief when they are reunited with a lost pet.
He spoke very highly of all of the police officers in town, saying that he was proud to work with them and that each officer gives 120 percent on the job.
"This town's fortunate, they have a real good police department down there,” he told Patch. "I was proud to work with them. There isn't one guy down there that I wouldn't have given my life for if I had to."
He was extremely honored to receive the Officer of the Year award.
"It's something that I’ll never forget, the rest of my life," he told Patch.
The officers think highly of Berg, too. He was nominated for the award by his peers.
“On December 31, 2012, Officer Karl Berg completed over 34 years of service to the Town of North Reading. He was selected the 2012 Officer of the Year by the members of the department. His peers credited Officer Berg’s commitment, dedication and loyalty to; the department, the community of North Reading and the law enforcement profession as their reasons for nominating him," Chief Michael Murphy said. "Officer Berg was a good partner and is a good friend. I along with the department members were proud to have served alongside him throughout the years. This award was well deserved."
Berg's contract was not renewed by the selectmen this year. They did not give him a reason, he said.